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Recruitment & Retention

Colo. District Considers Building Tiny Homes for Teachers

By Brenda Iasevoli — February 22, 2017 2 min read
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In the midst of a housing crunch, Eagle County School District in Colo. is considering tiny home construction as a strategy to recruit and retain teachers in the area, reports the Post Independent.

Home prices in the district, known for its ski resorts, are out of reach for teachers whose starting salary is $41,000, according to the district’s pay scale. After 15 years, teachers can make $49,200. Yet the median home value in Eagle County was $635,000 for 2016, up 3.9 percent from the previous year, according to zillow.com.

Initiatives to provide affordable housing options to teachers are neither new nor uncommon. Districts ranging from Santa Clara, Calif., to Hertford County, N.C., currently offer such programs. But the idea of providing teachers with tiny homes, generally no bigger than 400 square feet, appears a novel concept. (The idea has caught on across the country, however, as a way to provide housing for the homeless.)

The idea for the tiny homes came up at an Eagle County School board meeting, according to the Post Independent. The district owns a nearly 50-acre plot in Maloit Park in the town of Minturn, about eight miles southwest of Vail, where affordable workforce housing might be built.

Up to 18 houses could be built on about one-acre of land, according to Tom Braun, a land planner who is advising the district. The tiny houses, Braun said, would be just one type of housing built on the site.

It’s too early, according to Braun, to put a price on the houses or to say which teachers would be given priority. Those details would have to be worked out if the district decides to move ahead with the plan. A local tiny home builder, EcoCabins, currently lists a one-bedroom, 399 square-foot home at $49,900 and a one-bedroom 256-square foot home with loft at $37,900.

The tiny homes may be affordable for teachers, but Minturn’s town manager, Willy Powell, advised school board members to weigh their options carefully, according to the Post Independent. Powell suggested condominiums would make better use of the land, effectively housing more people in the same space.

School board member Kevin Kottenstette also urged caution. “Of all the property the school district owns, the beauty of this area is second to none. If this is developed, I want to make sure this is developed the right way,” he said.

The next step for the school district is to survey teachers about their housing needs and whether or not a tiny home might fit the bill.

Image by Getty
Map Courtesy Eagle County School District

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.